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Tips to help support your children through COVID- 19
1. Be calm and proactive
While many of us feel anxious and stressed about everything that is happening, remember that our kids take their emotional cues from us. Do not overshare your fears with your children. Have a calm, proactive conversation with your children about how the COVID-19 will affect their daily life (schools closed, social distance, etc.) and answer their questions with facts.
2. Be available to listen, and let them feel their emotions
One of the most important things we can do is listen to our children. You can expect your children may be sad, frustrated, worried, afraid and uncertain. LIstening to them express their feelings gives them support and normalizes what they are experiencing. Remember that children often express their emotions through misbehavior. Try getting to the root of the problem when you are dealing with misbehavior.
3. Give reassurance
Reassure your children that illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. Remind them that there are things we can do to keep ourselves and others safe and to feel in better control of our situation: frequently wash our hands, don't touch our faces and engage in social distancing.
4. Stick to a routine
Children need structure. Structure helps create a sense of safety and security and improves behavior. Create a daily routine that includes playtime, electronic time (phone, tablet, video games), technology-free time, time for school work and reading, family time, quiet time, time for chores, Be sure to set a bedtime.
5. Limit their access to news and adult conversations-
News is changing daily, and there is much misinformation circulating about COVID- 19. This can be overwhelming for children. Let your children know that the information they may hear or see on social media may not be accurate. Children will be actively seeking out information, and it is best for the information they receive to be filtered and to come directly from us as parents.
The Centers for Disease Control has created a parent page specifically to help parents during this time. It includes age-appropriate, factual information about COVID- 19 for children as well as ways to speak to children about the disease, and more. Visit the CDC site for a complete guide and more resources https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html
The Child Mind Institute offers a variety of online resources for supporting families during COVID-19: https://childmind.org/